Securing economic development, social equity and justice, and environmental protection is the goal of sustainable development. Although these three factors can work in harmony, they are often found to conflict with one another. During the latter half of the 20th century economic development for a better standard of living has been instrumental in damaging the environment. We are now in a position whereby we are consuming more resources than ever, and polluting the Earth with waste products. More recently, society has grown to realise that we cannot live in a healthy society or economy with so much poverty and environmental degradation. Economic growth will remain the basis for human development, but it must change and become less environmentally destructive. The challenge of sustainable development is to put this understanding into practice, changing our unsustainable ways into more sustainable ones.
The aim of sustainable development is to balance our economic, environmental and social needs, allowing prosperity for now and future generations. Sustainable development consists of a long-term, integrated approach to developing and achieving a healthy community by jointly addressing economic, environmental, and social issues, whilst avoiding the over consumption of key natural resources.
Sustainable development encourages us to conserve and enhance our resource base, by gradually changing the ways in which we develop and use technologies. Countries must be allowed to meet their basic needs of employment, food, energy, water and sanitation. If this is to be done in a sustainable manner, then there is a definite need for a sustainable level of population. Economic growth should be supported and developing nations should be allowed a growth of equal quality to the developed nations.
The UK Government has recognised four objectives for Sustainable Development. These include social progress and equality, environmental protection, conservation of natural resources and stable economic growth. Everybody has the right to a healthy, clean and safe environment. This can be achieved by reducing pollution, poverty, poor housing and unemployment. No one, in this age, or in the future should be treated unfairly. Global environmental threats, such as climate change and poor air quality must be reduced to protect human and environmental health. The use of non-renewable resources such as fossil fuels should not be stopped overnight, but they must be used efficiently and the development of alternatives should be encouraged to help phase them out. Everybody has the right to a good standard of living, with better job opportunities. Economic prosperity is required if our country is to prosper and our businesses must therefore offer a high standard of products that consumers throughout the world want, at the prices they are prepared to pay. For this, we need a workforce equipped with suitable skills and education within a framework to support them.